Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas post...:-)

This post is especially for "anonymous". I am sorry I was unable to post earlier, but hope this will suffice:-)

Last week was sooo busy and I left town to be with family, so I had no internet access. I am also having a semi-crisis... well really it's self imposed so don't feel sorry for me at all. It will also cause me to be very busy for all of January... I am really dreading January! But I am a lioness and can get through anything!

Any way... Santa was AWESOME!!! This year. I can not even begin to express my gratitude to "santa".... I am truly blessed.

Also I am in the process of reading 'a long way gone: memoirs of a boy soldier' by Ishmeal Beah which was one of my christmas presents. Will update when I finnish reading. Lots of blood so far. Tell you what though... I thought it was a little disturbing that I was given that book for christmas... it says a lot about how morbid my life is I!

Lets see news wise:- I still haven't a clue what I'll do for new years eve. Problems with being a social butterfly is that you get tired at times-- and this is one of those times. I am going to dinner with friends tonight and tomorrow, so I can decide what sounds better then. It's sushi night tomorrow... wrong day I know:-) It's also Michelle's birthday, so that's why. Gaza/ Israel-- is that really news???? Uganda church massacre??? Italian island of Lampedussa? There actually wasn't any real news other than the Somalian president stepping down-- that's like so rare in Africa:-)

Oopsy... phone call ... gotta run:-)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Passport Saga

I forgot to say yesterday that it's now 3 months since I sent my passport for renewal to the Zambian embassy. I had initially been told it takes three months for processing (I have the email to prove it), yet I received no receipt or anything telling me they had received my information. I only know they got it coz I fedexed it and had someone sign for it. So any way, I decided to practice patience and waited till the time had come before I called them.

Manena: I was calling to inquire when my passport will be ready and sent to me. It is now 3 months and I have heard nothing from you.
Lady at embassy: You will be getting something in the mail very soon. The prices have changed and so have the passports, so we need to send you a new form.
Manena: I sent the extra money, so can I download the new form and send that to you?
L @ E: No, we will send you the form and you can fill it and return it to us.
Manena: So in theory, nothing has been processed in the last 3 months with regards to my forms?
L@ E: That is correct. In fact, we haven't touched anything that came in after July. So now we're starting the process.
Manena (controlling her mouth obviously-- coz she's major pissed off!): So Then it will be another 3 months before I get a passport?
L @E: Yes. It will be 3 months.
Manena: So altogether it will be probably 6 months to get a passport.
In short-- They are forcing me to find someone to bribe. When you bribe passport officials, getting a passport is less than a week... even one day. The legal route takes 6 months or more. Why? to keep bribery going I suppose.
So I ask thee-- what good is the Zambian embassy to me? Really. When people are sick, or die, or are in jail, other Zambians from Zambian associations donate money and time. The embassy doesn't as far as I know. They can't even get me a passport, so really...what can they do for me as a Zambian? I am not being funny or anything-- maybe there's something I am missing. I seriously don't know how it can help me.
any hoo-- on another piss Manena note, it turns out you can sue good Samaritans in California. So the story is that a paralyzed woman and her friend go out drinking on the drive back, the para. woman has a car crash and her friend (driving behind her) runs to pull her out of the wreck. In doing so, the para lady sustains injuries and sues her friend. The court says good Samaritan laws only apply if you administer medical assistance to someone. So like if the friend had put a band aid on her, that would have been ok. How crappy is that???

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Raison d'etre

Okay... holidays are approaching and I have been a tad busy... also hurt my back at work..... so I was sort of recovering from that:-) I think I am all shopped out, unless someone wants to dump a whole lot of money on me then I will certainly recover and go shopping again;-)

Yesterday, I had a craving for some pad thai, but I was in denial to go downtown and buy it from a good place, so instead I went to Jesse Wongs kitchen. I must admit, I was very excited that I could order my dinner online and also that they called me within 2 minutes to confimr everything and to let me know that it would be ready in 10 minutes. They also gave me 10% off for ordering online for the first time. I ordered pad thai, vegetable spring rolls, chicken satay and shrimp something rolls.
Can I just say disgusting??? OMG!!! I mean my first clue should have been that I was ordering Thai food from 'Jesse Wong'... but I figured that maybe the chef knew his thang. He didn't. I ate half of my dinner, but really the pad thai had a nice spicy kick to it...but it was vile. The shrimp rolls?... I couldn't do more than two. The chicken satay-- nausea. If I ever go back there, I will probably stick to something simple like fried rice or steamed vegetables.

Moving on-- Okay here is the funny story about Blagojevich... I had never heard his name until the day he decided to halt business with Bank of America. For some reason I get Chicago news on my cheap cable. I laughed when I saw Blagojevich coz he looked weird...and so imagine my surprise to hear the same name the very next day on the radio...after he had been arrested by the FBI...!!!

Talking about secret service-- I found the dabya-shoe-saga sooo funny I thought I would pee my pants! Now why didn't secret service remove dabya from the scene when that nonsense happened? What if other shoes started flying in the room? I.D.K-- thought they were a little on the slow side.

Ok... If I post nothing by Christmas...y'all have a grand time and don't forget the real meaning of Christmas. I am distracted at present.... tv:-)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Elongation of Labia Minora- Zambia

I was browsing the web today and just now found out that elongation of labia minora is classified as Genital Mutilation type IV (where have I been?). So of course after my initial shock of "oh my God! I am mutilated!!!" abated... I had a few minutes to think and I have come to a conclusion on the subject. The researchers have erred.

History and Commentary:
Let me start by saying that the information contained herein will most likely upset/disconcert a lot of Zambians because we have trouble talking about our sexuality or sex in public places. Ritual/ traditional sexual matters are discussed in private among friends or at gender restricted traditional ceremonies.

The reason I feel strongly to speak on this subject is that as Zambian, we sometimes have a tendency to accept western standards as the norm, shunning our own cultures without much investigation other than the fact that it seems primitive. We often forget that when anthropologists come in from other countries to "study" us, they are not highly familiar with the language for a start, and the local people are not comfortable explaining everything or have trouble translating things to English. The evidence is clear in Chisungu: A girl's initiation ceremony among the Bemba of Zambia by Audrey Richards.

Yes there are a lot of inconsistencies and traditional teaching that has been done the same way for ages that we have no idea why it's done that way other than-- it was passed on by our forefathers that way. You could say the same for many religious practices too. Unfortunately, unlike religion, our history is not written, but passes on through fables or partially true stories, through dance and song or a village elders romantic view of the past.

Traditionally, young Zambian (and other African- Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC...etc) girls are taught at puberty to elongate the labia minora for the enhancement a man and woman's sexual pleasures.

I recall receiving this information from our house maid when I was 10 or 11 years old. We had just returned home from a particularly trying game of Zambian 'rounders'. She approached my cousins and I and somberly informed us that if we did not pull on our labia minora we would not get married and hence would have no children. That was enough to scare us into sitting down with her on what would become our many "bathroom" sessions.

No. I never got them to the desired/ recommended length because I grew bored and my cousins and I decided to just screw the move and never get married. As it turns out, you CAN get married without altering your labia and...oh wow! You can have kids too!!!

Defense Motion:
Mutilation or maiming is an act or physical injury that degrades the appearance or function of the (human) body, usually without causing death. So technically-- the body part is altered when you elongate the labia, but you are not altering how anything feels down there. They also say that women with elongated labia tend to have more bladder and vaginal infections than others. Probably true for others... but not for me and women that I am close to, so I can not confirm or deny that.

The thing is Mutilation has really negative connotations. To me it's the cutting of the clitoris and other female body parts in a way to keep a woman submissive and violate women's sexual rights. If we use the original definition listed above, that would be assuming that a woman getting a hysterectomy is also being mutilated... which is in fact not true because the surgery is not done negatively or that women who choose to get hoodectomies to enhance sexual pleasure or labiaplasty to make their genitals look pretty are mutilating themselves right? See be very careful with evaluations of culture done by the western world.

So because elongating the labia is for positive reasons (pleasure) should it be considered FGM surely? The only weapons used are fingers, herbal oils, mango stems (really!), or clothes pegs in serious cases. Of course as with everything, some women get abused in the process such as those sent back from their marital homes because they didn't have elongated labia, or those abused during initiations ceremonies (which I wont get into today).

I mean I just don't see see how someone who thinks lobola is the buying and selling of women while they encourage the purchase of expensive diamond rings can tell me I am mutilated.
I am the proud owner of elongated labia minora and they have not caused me any mental or physical problems.
I am Manena-- and I approve this message.

Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS day

This is in memory of all that have lost their lives as a result of HIV/AIDS complications. There is nothing left to say that hasn't already been said.
You can view the stories I did in 2006 at the links below...
and of course-- last years post is pasted below...

I would like to start by asking you all to pause for a minute in memory of all the victims of AIDS that are deceased.

Next I would like to applaud all families taking care of the 'orphans of AIDS' and to those taking care of patients with AIDS/HIV related complications. You guys are magnificent people!

It's amazing that years after the discovery of this 'new disease', things seem to have worsened and not improved. Just the other day, news reports said that estimates of AIDS cases have risen in America. In years past, the misconception was that Africans we're too stupid to understand the cause and effect of unprotected sex and that was why the cases were increasing there. I can attest to the fact that this was not so.

By the time I was in high school in Zambia (mid-late '90's), we had representatives from various NGO's that would come in and talk to us about HIV and show pictures of sickly men, women and children. We saw pictures of penises oozing with puss and vaginas with various stages of decubitus wounds. We saw sketetons or children- reminiscent of the Ethiopian children in the 'we are the world' videos. There were countless numbers of billboards screaming out 'prevention is the cure' or something in those lines.
The message was loud and clear: Abstinence or Condoms was the key to a life free of HIV/ AIDS.

A few months ago, I found out that my cousin is HIV positive. My cousin is TWO DAYS older than I am. We saw the same billboards and heard the same messages. We knew almost the same people, including those that had AIDS.

Yesterday, news stations were abuzz with the story of the Zambian reporter Kenneth Gondwe that was recently circumcised. While I commend him for bringing this story to light. I fear that we will go back to the days when circumcisions were perfomed enmass and the same tool was used to cut the foreskin of the men in attendance. Most of the people in rural areas can not afford the $50 needed for the circumcision. In addition, if the message isn't sent out right, there will be a growing number of people that will assume that because they are circumcised, they will not get HIV when they fornicate sans condoms. Also, i can imagine a growing number of penile infections due to people performing their own circumcisions in the privacy of their own homes for lack of finances.

So any way, that's my little sermon for today.